January 12, 2019 - Brockport, New York
The SUNYAC Conference is one of the most competitive and well supported leagues in NCAA Division 3 hockey. The College at Brockport has had hockey for decades, and Tuttle North Ice Arena opened on campus in 1973. This simple brick arena has lots of history, but thanks to the addition of the SERC (Special Event Recreation Center) on campus in 2012 the venue has a different look and a new main entrance. The SERC is the college's newer athletic center which was built so that its lobby attaches to the ice rink, providing for a newer, and more modern look for the facility. The ice rink's flat roof and red brick walls integrate nicely into the modern lobby and large glass facade of the SERC. A large parking lot is adjacent to the arena, and with this mid-January game taking place while students were still on break there was not a lot of activity going on on campus. A circular driveway in front of the facility allows for fans to be dropped off, and a small grassy courtyard sits in front to the facility's main entrance, although with the winters in the area the grounds are frequently covered with snow during hockey season. Modern looking metal trim offsets the glass facade, and a large covered waiting area in front of the entry doors appears to be a place where students can wait for the on campus bus to arrive while being under a bit of shelter. Despite being less than a half hour from Rochester, Golden Eagles hockey has its own following, made up of mostly students and locals with ties to the university. With an enrollment of around 8,000 The College at Brockport is a mid-sized school, and one that has had modest hockey success, although traditionally the Golden Eagles are ranked below perennial SUNYAC powers such as Plattsburgh, Oswego, and Geneseo. The 2012 addition of the SERC made for an upgrade to the rink's ancillary facilities such as the lobby, restrooms, and snack bar, but the rink itself still has that 1970's vibe about it, and seems relatively unchanged from what you would imagine the facility to be decades ago.
This Saturday contest against Lebanon Valley College featured a 4pm start time, and with the students still on semester break, there was no admission charge. Upon entering the main lobby of the SERC fans find a snack bar and a modern looking sitting area with couches and tables where students can relax, study, or unwind after a workout at the new fitness facility which is part of the complex. To enter the arena you go up a stairway to the upper level of the arena, and enter at the top of the upper concourse. The arena has a layout featuring seating on each side of the ice, and a upper concourse which doubles as a squared off running track which runs above the ice and seating area. The configuration is very similar to SUNYAC foes Cortland and Geneseo, and has a simple, yet classic look. The side of the ice nearest the SERC lobby has 8 rows of plastic benches on aluminum risers that appear to be able to fold out. The bench seats themselves are green, and the school's gold and green colors are on display throughout the arena, with a large block letter mural on each end wall. There is no seating on the ends, and the side across the ice from the SERC lobby features the team benches and has 7 rows of green plastic benches. That side of the arena features an older lobby out behind the grandstand and attaches via a hallway to an older basketball gym. The interior walls are made of brick and are painted with the school name and logos making no doubt that this is the home of the Golden Eagles. The arena's flat ceiling is covered with modern acoustic insulation panels, and a simple center scoreclock hangs from the ceiling as well. Tuttle North Ice Arena is a simple venue, and has a listed capacity of 1250, but the homey touches of the school colors and logos which are prominently displayed give the place a bit of character and charm.
The game day presentation at Tuttle North Ice Arena for a Brockport Golden Eagles game is well done, yet very simple. Music is played over a strong and crystal clear PA. Intermissions are devoid of any activity except for the resurfacing of the ice, and with the rink being kept at a rather cold temperature most of the fans on hand head out into the modern lobby area to warm up between periods. With a small ice surface measuring 185'x85' there is lots of action and physical play, and the grandstands provide a clear view of the action and offer good sight lines. Many fans also choose to stand along the upper concourse which also offers a good view, although standing on the end concourse areas is prohibited while the puck is in play. While inside the arena you clearly get the feeling that this is an older venue with classic bones, but the upgraded modern lobby offers some comforts and a solid experience before the game and during intermission. With this game taking place while students were still on semester break, and featuring a non-conference opponent, there was not a large crowd on hand, and virtually no student presence at the game at all. With an on-campus location we suspect that crowds and student support is much stronger while class is in session. The arena does a great job feeling like a home for the Golden Eagles, with team colors and logos displayed everywhere. We are not sure if the free admission charge was a regular occurrence or just due to the students being on break. It was nice to see free team lineup sheets offered, which were detailed and informative. There are also banners in the arena on display listing all of the SUNYAC schools which the Golden Eagles face off against. This place seems to be just the right size for D3 hockey. The small crowd of a couple hundred on hand went home happy as Brockport claimed a 7-3 victory in the contest in what was a very entertaining game. With the recent upgrades to the SERC which serves as the lobby for Tuttle North Ice Arena it is apparent that this utilitarian facility will serve as the home of Brockport hockey for the forseeable future. The arena's old school setting provides a fun environment to watch hockey, and the level of play in the SUNYAC Conference is always enjoyable. Brockport may not be a hockey powerhouse school, but this venue is a solid one, and a fun place to catch a game.